Ocracoke: Discover the Outer Banks of North Carolina

By: Chantelle Symester

April 1, 2014

Situated on the outer banks of North Carolina, the little island of Ocracoke was once upon a time a quaint fishing village, but not anymore. Over time it has managed to shake off that tag and become a hub for tourists and locals looking to explore the vast natural beauty of the area. Of course there is every opportunity to relax and kick back here, and for those wanting to escape the humdrum pace of their everyday life on the mainland, this is the ideal island retreat.

Don’t let Ocracoke’s size fool you; once you arrive you’ll be anything but bored. This thriving island has plenty of activities to keep you occupied and plenty of opportunities to get out and discover the island’s rich history.

Ocracoke - Sand dune

Take a walk through the sand dunes ©  Adam Goldsmith/iStock/Thinkstock

Budding photographers might want to venture out on the trails that encompass the island, many of which will offer a glimpse of the area’s local wildlife, from turtles to dolphins to exotic birds, and plenty of ponies. You may even get lucky and snap a few spectacular, postcard-worthy images to show off back home. Hammock Hills Trail, which can be found just past Ocracoke campsite, is a ¾ mile track that takes in sand dunes, maritime forest, salt marshes and views of the vast Pamlico Sound, the largest lagoon on the east coast.

Ocracoke - Fishing boat Pamlico Sound

Fishing boat Pamlico Sound © Neta Degany/iStock/Thinkstock

Like fishing? Well, Ocracoke is pretty much an anglers’ paradise – the rich waters surrounding the island are home to a variety of fish, and with friendly locals at every corner ready to impart their knowledge and expertise, you’ll easily find the best spots to get catch something extra special in no time at all. You can also charter a boat and make a day of it – a great family outing or the perfect opportunity to let loose with a group of friends. There are a number of recommended companies where you can arrange full and half day excursions and try your hand at fishing Ocracoke style! Drum Stick Charter Fishing offer picturesque sunset cruises or if you want to play captain of your own adventures you can rent your own Skiff for the day. Dream Girl Sport Fishing also organise regular chartered tours for fishing enthusiasts, where you can strike it lucky and come away with a haul of black sea bass or some speckled trout.

Ocracoke - Fishing boat in the dock

Fishing boat in the dock © Ole Bendik Kvisberg/Flickr

If dry land is more your thing why not take a day trip out on an ATV excursion? This is a superb way of exploring some other islands south of Ocracoke like Portsmouth, which happens to have one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the area. Portsmouth Island ATV offer great half-day trips where you are taken, via a 20-minute boat ride to neighbouring Portsmouth, before hitting the shore and hopping into your ATV. You’ll get the chance to do a spot of dolphin watching, follow turtle tracks and swim in the lush swell. So if you’re a nature enthusiast you’ll be in your element.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse © Tessmw83/iStock/Thinkstock

If you can, parasail whilst on the island. It’s a truly unique way of experiencing the coastal stretches up and down Ocracoke’s coast.  Ocracoke Parasail proudly invite holidaymakers to “˜come fly with the local boys’, an offer that shouldn’t be passed up. The experienced crew will take you up to 500-600 ft. above the sea where you can literally take in the bird’s-eye views of the stunning beaches and beyond.

Ocracoke - Dajio Restaurant

Taste the fresh catch at the award winning Dajio Restaurant © Dajio

And if you want pure (culinary) indulgence, Ocracoke can offer you some of that too. Gorge yourself on the fresh seafood delights served up at the award winning and much loved Dajio Restaurant in the heart of the village.  Try the crab mac n cheese or Cioppo – a dish of the “˜chip in’ from local fishermen that includes the catch of the day, shellfish and clams, served up in a tomato and saffron broth and some freshly made linguine. You should also make the obligatory trip to Ocracoke’s very own dining institution, Howard’s pub, which prides itself on being the best casual, fun-loving haunt on the island..

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Are you familiar with Ocracoke? Where are some of the best places to spot some wildlife? Tell us in the comments section below.


Chantelle Symester

Chantelle Symester is a writer and editor based in London. When she’s not chained to her laptop working she can be found hopping on a plane to far flung places across the globe. Trips so far include adventures to Mexico, South America and North Africa and she now has her heart set on discovering the East. You can find her @csymester

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